Based on a fictional novel, Netflix’s series All the Light We Cannot See reimagines the devastating events of the second World War. Anthony Doerr, who won a Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category for this novel, tells the tale of a terrible time period where all hope seems lost. The author tells us about a time when misery and pain were prevalent, but amidst all the chaos and hatred, there were a few who didn’t lose hope and made sure that, in the end, love overpowered everything else. The director has taken a lot of creative liberties, and there are a few things that have been changed in the series with respect to the novel. The series made a promising start, but truth be told, we were not satisfied with the hasty manner in which everything ended.
Our expectations were high, and we were vouching for the series till its first 3 episodes, but personally, the show never reached that pinnacle and that catharsis that we longed for. Not in a stereotypical manner, but we did expect an even more gut-wrenching ending but that never happened and evenmore probably due to the manner of execution we never really got attached to the characters. Those characters that we saw at the helm of affairs had a lot of depth, and we wanted to know more about them. The performances were brilliant, but we do believe that the screenplay let them down. We are not implying that All the Light We Cannot See is not worth watching, but it’s just that we expected to be impacted way more by it, primarily because it is based on such subject matter. So, let’s find out what was happening in Daniel’s and Marie’s lives in the early 1940s and if they were able to escape their doom.
How did Daniel train Marie?
Daniel adored his daughter, Marie, and he never let her feel that she was less than anybody else or that she couldn’t do something because of her disability. He made sure that she saw the world through his eyes, and his love became the light through which she could overcome all the darkness of her life. Daniel went to the extent of mapping down the entire town of Paris and making a miniature model of it. The man walked through the entire city, counting each and every step, and then he laid the blueprint of his model. Because of Daniel, Marie could walk in the entire city alone and tell what place lay where. He probably didn’t know back then that very soon, this skill would be of great use for Marie, as it would help her escape and probably save France from the wrath of the madman, who had made it his mission in life to destroy mankind. Those were strange times, and it was hard for any rational man to see what the world had been reduced to.
Death was casting its shadow over the entire European subcontinent, and the demon with a short mustache had made sure that kindness was eradicated from the face of the earth. The Gestapo had invaded France, and Daniel and Marie were forced to leave their house and go to Saint-Malo, where their relatives stayed. Before leaving, Daniel, who was the master of keys at the Museum of Natural History, made sure that he kept all the gems and diamonds safely in a package and sent them to Geneva. He kept all of them in the delivery carton except one: the most valuable diamond, named the Sea of Flames. Daniel kept it to himself, and he knew that the Gestapo would come searching for it sooner or later. Daniel and Marie reached Saint Malo at Etienne’s and Madame Manec’s house, and they discovered that there was much more to them than met the eye.
What did Marie find out about Etienne?
Marie, from a very early age, used to listen to a particular radio show that was broadcasted on the 13:10 shortwave. In that show, a man who referred to himself as the professor talked about the mysteries of life, not having any clue who was listening to him and from which part of the world. Marie used to listen to him, and little did she know at that time that he was none other than her great-uncle Etienne. Etienne was a war veteran, but life had not been kind to him, and after the First World War, he was never the same again. His past haunted him, and he locked himself inside the house and didn’t go out for almost two decades. He used his attic as his workplace, and once the Second World War started, he sent coded signals to the London headquarters, informing them about the state of things in France. His elder sister, Manec, was also part of a resistance group where, together with a couple of more elderly ladies, they used to keep a check on the arrival of vehicles and cargo ships in the territory of France. The information was sent to the Allied Powers, though Etienne didn’t know if they were intercepting the information or not. The moment Marie heard Etienne speak, she knew that he was the professor. She didn’t like that the man didn’t move out of his house, and she made sure that she asked the same question, i.e. if he wanted to go out and see the ocean with her, everyday. In Marie, Etienne found hope, and he told the little girl to keep asking him the same thing every day, as he was sure that one day, he would be able to get over his fears. Etienne knew that the work he and his sister were doing was very important, and through it, they would be able to win the war.
Why did Werner kill his own commander?
While the professor used to come with his daily dose of wisdom over the short wave, 13:10, it was not only the children of France who were listening to him. In Essen, Germany, in an orphanage named Viktoria Strasse, there was a boy named Werner Pfennig who tuned into the same frequency and found solace through it. Life had been very tough for Werner, but the professor’s voice made him feel that all hope wasn’t lost. That radio program served as his source of energy, and it made him believe that there was something in this world that was worth fighting for, and evidently, the world was not what the Fuhrer wanted them to believe it to be. His sister, Jutta, always told him to not put his life in danger and listening to foreign channels was illegal, but Werner didn’t listen to her. Imagine the kind of impact that radio program would have had on young minds. When an entire nation was being brainwashed, a boy, at his tender age, refused to blindly accept the norm of his land. He learned to differentiate the good from the evil and not agree to anything and everything that the leader of his nation was saying. The impact that Etienne had on young minds was unimaginable, and probably, he didn’t know at that time that it would end up saving his grand niece’s life.
The German officers had realized at a very early stage that Werner was a genius and that he could be of a lot of help to them. Werner was sent to the National Political School of Education, where, by harnessing his skills, he was taught to remove every ounce of kindness from his soul and become a personification of the devil himself. But even that torture couldn’t brainwash Werner, and he made sure that his conscience remained alive. Werner, after coming to Saint-Malo, realized that a girl was broadcasting from the same short wave on which the professor used to speak. Werner hid this fact from the Gestapo for the longest time, and he even killed one of his colleagues so that he could safeguard the identity of that unknown girl. Werner had no clue at that point in time
In All the Light We Cannot See, the girl he was listening to every night was Marie. Werner’s commanding officer soon realized that he was hiding things from them. They knew that a blind girl was broadcasting every night and was passing coded messages to the American forces, letting them know the exact points where they should be dropping their bombs. Werner, at gunpoint, was asked to find the address of Marie and eliminate her. Werner reached Marie’s house, and he decided that he wanted to break his shackles. He killed his commanding officer, and Etienne, who arrived at the scene just in time, saw him doing that. Werner saved Marie’s life, and he told Etienne everything about how he had reached there and why he disobeyed the orders of his superiors.
Was Daniel dead or alive?
Once Etienne and Madame Manec realized that Daniel had come to their place with the Sea of Flames, they knew that they would have to take action so that the Gestapo didn’t come to know about it. A special unit had been created just to find the Sea of Flames, and Etienne knew that it was a matter of time before they reached their house and found out what was happening there. So it was decided that Daniel would leave for Paris and then try to deceive the German forces into believing that he was hiding with Marie someplace else. Daniel was very sure that if everything went as planned, he would be able to lead the German soldiers astray. But things didn’t go as he would have wanted them to, and Daniel was caught by Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel in Paris itself. Reinhold wanted the Sea of Flames for himself, as he believed in the myth that the bearer of the stone attained immortality. Reinhold was probably suffering from cancer, and he believed that if he could get the Sea of Flames, he would be able to defy death. He tortured Daniel for three hours and asked where the diamond was, but Daniel didn’t give him any information. Reinhold had realized that his daughter had the diamond in her possession, and he just wanted to know where she was hiding. But Daniel sacrificed his life for Marie and did not give any information to a frustrated Reinhold. Marie, since the time her father left Saint Malo, always believed that one day he would come back to her. During All the Light We Cannot See‘s ending, Reinhold finally revealed to Marie that he had killed Daniel. Upon hearing about her father’s death, Marie was distraught, but she decided to put up a fight to honor the memory of her father.
Was Major Reinhold able to get to the Sea of Flames?
Sergeant Major Reinhold had found out where Marie was through a French woman who provided escort services, whom he used to visit quite often. Reinhold was in a desperate state, and he wanted to find the diamond at all costs. Meanwhile, Etienne’s colleagues didn’t want to leave Werner alive, but before they could shoot him, a bomb fell on their house, and they all died on the spot. Werner was able to survive, and he found Etienne, who, though still alive, knew that his end was near. Etienne, taking his last breaths, told Werner that he was a good human being and requested that he save Marie from the German soldiers. Werner rushed to Marie’s house to find out that Reinhold had already reached there, and he was ready to kill everybody who stood in between him and the diamond.
Until the very end of All the Light We Cannot See, Marie, too, didn’t have any idea that Daniel had hidden the diamond in one of the miniature models that he had created for Marie. Marie shot Reinhold dead, and in the scuffle, the table on which the city model was kept broke, and the diamond fell on the floor. Marie asked Werner not to touch it, and she picked it up using a cloth and later threw it in the ocean. Werner and Marie shared a kiss, and probably for the first time in a long while, they felt complete and happy, and they felt that things from there would get better. Werner surrendered to the Americans, and he told Marie that he would meet her again in the short wave, 13:10. Before leaving, Werner informed his sister, who was still in Germany, that he was alive and that he would return home very soon. We don’t know if Werner would be a free man again or not, but he felt satisfied at that moment as he knew that he had conquered hatred with love and that he had given it his all to make the world a better place to live.